Side dish: Tucanos Brazilian Grill to open soon 

Bite of Brazil

Five by five: On April 5 (tentatively), Tucanos Brazilian Grill (tucanos.com) plans to open at 3294 Cinema Point in the First & Main Town Center. The 12-year-old chain also has locations in Boise, Salt Lake City, Albuquerque, and Provo, Utah (the original). Company CEO Stephen Oldham says two more openings are planned for 2012, in the Midwest and on the East Coast.

Each location is allowed a little leeway for local color, but otherwise the menu offers an "authentic experience of what you'd get in Brazil," says Oldham, who lived there for 3½ years. "We want to bring more of a Rio de Janeiro festival flair to the Brazilian steakhouse concept, which sets us apart from others in the U.S."

The star attraction is the all-you-can-eat churrasco (also called rodízio). For $13.95 at lunch or $20.95 at dinner, 12 to 15 items (eight to nine at lunch) such as top sirloin and Brazilian sausage are grilled (on imported Brazilian equipment) and brought around by servers, who slice what you want directly onto your plate. That price also includes unlimited visits to the "salad festival," called that "because it puts any other salad bar to shame," says Oldham. That's where many of the authentic sides like feijoada (pork and bean stew) and Brazilian stroganoff will be found, along with monthly specials that spotlight the cuisine of different regions of Brazil.

Drinks include the popular Guarana (Amazonian berry) soda; Xingu and Palma Louca Brazilian beers; and the national cocktail caipirinhas. Catch a grand opening on April 26 to benefit four Springs nonprofits.

At the Drive-In

And a Springs icon changes hands once again.

Bill Miller, owner of Leon Gessi Pizza from 1995 to 2002 and 35-year food industry veteran, recently purchased The Drive-In (2309 N. Weber St., 633-0618) from the folks who run Willamette Avenue's also-iconic Little Market & Deli. After a costly month of renovations and equipment upgrades, Miller says he's brought back the atmosphere of an authentic 1950s-style diner. Fitting, since the place first opened back then.

Miller has changed the menu, adjusting the recipes to match a slightly more gourmet, "country club style." He actually is a former country club manager, and isn't shy about saying that "once you come here, you're not going anywhere else."

You can still expect the classic items, from burgers and chili dogs to large-cut fries and onion rings, as well as sweets like flurries, blizzards and milkshakes. But that country club edge can be seen with items like a PLT (pastrami, lettuce and tomato, $2.89) as well as the option to add pastrami to other items for 50 cents. Breads are grilled, and gluten-free substitutes available.

The Drive-In opened a couple weeks ago and will operate through October, daily from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. (10 p.m., come summer).


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